Wednesday, July 18, 2018
  • Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017
DGA Names Derek Cianfrance Best Commercial Director of the Year
Derek Cianfrance
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Derek Cianfrance of RadicalMedia won the DGA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Commercials last night (2/4) in Beverly Hills. A first-time nominee, Cianfrance earned distinction as best spot director of the year based on four entries from his body of work in 2016: Nike Golf’s “Chase”; Powerade’s “Doubts” and “Expectations,” and Squarespace’s “Manifesto.” The Nike and Powerade commercials were from Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore., while the Squarespace piece was out of Anomaly NY.

In his brief acceptance remarks, Cianfrance gave thanks to his parents, wife Shannon, and two children, as well as to his compatriots at RadicalMedia, including principals Jon Kamen and Frank Scherma, EPs Jim Bouvet, Donna Portraro and Greg Carlesimo, and national agent Michael Dimitri.

Cianfrance topped a field of commercial director nominees which also consisted of Lance Acord of Park Picture, Dante Ariola of MJZ, Fredrik Bond of MJZ, and AG Rojas of Park Pictures.

Earlier, Cianfrance told SHOOT that he was proud of all the work entered on his behalf for DGA consideration and that he perhaps most personally identified with his Powerade “Power Through” campaign, particularly the “Expectations” spot which includes a female football player who excels despite a nay-saying coach. Cianfrance cast real athletes for the campaign--in this specific case, a female defensive lineman for the New York Sharks, a team in the Independent Women’s Football League.

Cianfrance can relate to bucking the odds and naysayers--both personally and professionally. He recalled a high school soccer coach telling him he’d never play much. Cianfrance worked hard, and became an all-conference soccer player on his high school team, having his best game against the team whose head coach was the one who had initially discouraged him. On the professional front, Cianfrance noted that his breakthrough feature Blue Valentine took him a dozen years to bring to fruition. “I had 12 years of rejection on that movie,” he recollected. “The more I was told that movie would never amount to much, the greater the motivation was for me to make it happen. That’s why I understood the spirit of that Powerade work. The girl we cast who wanted to play football was in real life a force to be reckoned with.”

Incidentally, Blue Valentine went on to earn an Oscar nomination--Best Lead Actress for Michelle Williams--as well as Golden Camera and Un Certain Regard Award nominations at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, a Gotham Award best feature nomination, an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Williams’ performance, and a Dramatic Grand Jury Prize nomination at the Sundance Film Festival. Cianfrance has gone on to direct such features as The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and last year’s release, The Light Between Oceans.

Offering another perspective on an athlete’s inner drive is “Chase” for Nike Golf. While golf is often considered a mental game and not all that physically strenuous, Cianfrance and Wieden+Kennedy wanted to paint a more accurate picture of the sport, focusing on champion Rory McIlroy. The spot captures his grueling training regimen, providing a visceral look at his workout and lifestyle.

Meanwhile Cianfrance’s remaining DGA entry, Squarespace’s “Manifesto,” focuses on real people from different walks of life and their aspirations spanning diverse endeavors. Working with cinematographer Sean Bobbitt (who shot The Place Beyond the Pines), Cianfrance directed a piece which plays almost like a meditation on people in the act of doing what they want and love to do.

Here’s a rundown of Cianfrance’s teams on his DGA-winning spots:

“Chase,” Nike Golf – Wieden + Kennedy Portland
First Assistant Director: Rick Lange
Second Assistant Director: Ethan Ross, Craig Sackett, Cue Chatley
Second Second Assistant Directors: Greg Moutran, Stephen Killebrew

“Doubts,” Powerade – Wieden + Kennedy Portland
First Assistant Director: Mariela Comitini
Second Assistant Director: Brad Robinson

“Expectations,” Powerade – Wieden + Kennedy Portland
First Assistant Director: Mariela Comitini
Second Assistant Director: Brad Robinson

“Manifesto,” Squarespace – Anomaly
First Assistant Director: David Backus
Second Assistant Director: Josh Voegelin